Appleton East’s Erik Thulien considers himself a steady golfer.
But Saturday’s pressure situation Fox Valley Association conference meet at Wander Springs Golf Course in Greenleaf left the Patriots standout a little shaken.
Thulien recorded a birdie on the 18th hole to help give the Patriots the FVA title by the slimmest of margins — one stroke — over Neenah, to help East capture the conference crown for the second consecutive season.
Prior to that final hole, however, Thulien had been told by East coach Kevin Reichardt that the Patriots were up by one stroke over the Rockets. Thulien, who was playing in a quartet of Neenah’s Sam Galloway, Kimberly’s Jonah Buss and Kaukauna’s Mitch Wittman, was two strokes behind Galloway heading into the final hole.
Or so he thought.
“Coach told me that and I was like ‘Oh, I’m two-back of Galloway,’ ” Thulien said. “But it turns out I was actually just one back. I thought I had to make a birdie to at least tie and have Sam par. I ended up making a 6-footer for birdie and Sam ended up making par. But I didn’t know we had won until we got back. I thought we were going to the playoff.”
Thulien said he had never been in a pressure situation before where a conference title was on the line.
“I never had that before,” he said. “We were walking off the green and (Galloway) noticed that my hands were shaking because I was so nervous.”
Thulien and Galloway both finished with a 75. Oshkosh West’s Logan Handy was the top finisher with a 73 with Wittman firing a 74.
East finished with 313 points, followed by Neenah (314), Oshkosh West (327), Kaukauna (330) and Kimberly (334) in the top five.
Alan Lemons (78), Sam Kuklinski (80) and Phillip Boldt (80) completed the scoring for Appleton East, which recorded it’s first back-to-back championship seasons since those great teams from 2006 and 2007.
“There were so many great players, like Erik Mayer and the Russos and many more that have come to East,” Lemons said. “It’s cool to be up there as two-time conference champs with them.”
“It feels great,” he said. “We got four seniors on the team. We were hoping to sweep conference. We wanted to get it done today. It felt great to come off and we get to breathe for a second before regionals.”
FVA CONFERENCE MEET
At Wander Springs G.C.
APPLETON EAST 313, NEENAH 314, OSHKOSH WEST 327, KAUKAUNA 330, KIMBERLY 334, FOND DU LAC 350, APPLETON NORTH 352, APPLETON WEST 353, OSHKOSH NORTH 355, MENASHA 374
Top 5 Finishers: 1, Logan Handy OW 73; Mitchell Wittman KAU 74; 3, Sam Galloway NEE 75; 4, Erik Thulien AE 75; Nick Bauer ON 78.
Appleton East: Erik Thulien 75, Alan Lemons 78, Sam Kuklinski 80, Philip Boldt 80, Adam Berthiaume 86.
Appleton North: Geoffrey Stirm 83, Jon Hidde 86, Cole Salm 91, Luke Gambaro 92, Zach Lueck 92.
Appleton West: Isaiah Harmison 81, Grant Arnold 86, Ryan Miller 91, Levi Schrader 95, Steven Seitz 98.
Kaukauna: Mitchell Wittman 74, Zach Kimball 81, Dan White 87, Dalton Erdman 88, Adam Thiede 89.
Kimberly: Jonah Buss 81, Jalen Buchberger 82, Ben Peterson 84, Collin Lang 87, Tucker Paschen 92
Menasha: Carter Grishaber 88, Bekah Donner 91, Ty Pawlowski 94, Sebastian Peterson 101, Mitchell Stranchik 106.
Neenah: Sam Galloway 75, Conner Grundman 78, Isaac Quella 80, Aaron Rosauer 81, Jack Mulvey 87.